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John 21:1-22 HOW TO CHANGE YOUR CHURCH FOREVER
Intro: "A pastor came home one day to find his
daughter arguing with her friends in the bedroom. From the front hallway he could hear
them yelling and calling each other names, so he quickly made his way up the stairs.
"`What's going on in here?' he asked as he entered the
"His five-year-old looked up at him and smiled. `It's
okay, Daddy. We're just playing church!'"
We laugh at a scene such as that, but the reality is much darker and far
more serious that we often realize. A sad but true fact is that the church is often
thought of as being out of touch and insensitive to what is going on in the world. Often,
the church is seen as being so wrapped up within itself that it has no compassion on, or
time for a world that is perishing. In fact, there are many outside the church that would
rather turn anywhere for help but to the church.
(Ill. Philip Yancey tells about a friend of his who
worked with homeless people in Chicago. One woman his friend was trying to help was a
cocaine addict: "She was so desperate that she would rent out her two-year-old
daughter to men so they could have sex with her. The woman would get $100 per man which
would be just enough for another fix. She was homeless, she had bad health, she had no one
to care for her. She poured out her story to my friend who is a Christian minister, and he
was overwhelmed and amazed. At the end he said to her, 'As you went through all this, did
you ever think about going to a church for help?' He said that he would never forget the
look of absolute naive shock that crossed her face as she said, 'Church! Why would I ever
go there? I was already feeling bad enough, they would just make me feel worse!'")
Why do people have this perception of the church? Where did we go wrong?
Indeed, have we gone wrong? I believe the honest answer is this, "Yes, we have
strayed from the Lord's plan and we need to find the path back home again."
Thankfully, God has given us some insight into what we need in this hour in which we live.
In these verses dealing with a time in the disciples lives when they became sidetracked,
we are presented with three powerful lessons, that if heeded and implemented in our
churches would change them forever. I don't know about you, and I cannot speak for your
church, but my heart's desire for Gilead Baptist is that we become the kind of church
where lost folk can come and find help, a place where the saints can come and find home
and hope fro their lives. I believe you want the same for the church you call home as
well. Therefore, we need to hear the lessons that are laid out in these verses. Tonight,
as the Lord gives liberty to stand and speak, I would like to preach to on that thought; How
To Change Your Church Forever.
I. V. 1-14 Lesson #1: INVOLVES OUR DEPENDENCE UPON GOD
A. V. 1-3 A Night Of Wasted Activity
1. A Return To The Old Life - Seven of our Lord's
Disciples made a decision to return to the Sea to find that which they needed. This is a
picture of a life lived in the energy of the flesh. They were in Galilee because Jesus had
told them that He would meet them there, Matt. 28:10. They were in the right place, but
they were using the wrong methods. Instead of waiting on the Lord to come and give them
direction, they began doing things their way, based on what and how they knew to do.
(Ill. Aren't we guilty of doing this at church? We hear of a method that
works over at this super church and we figure, "Well, if it worked there, it'll work
here!" If the Lord leads you to implement a program that you read about or hear about
then go to it, but unless the Lord directs it, then it will come to nothing. We need to be
more concerned with what the Lord wants us to be doing than copying the latest church
2. A Reminder From The New Life - They fished all night
and caught nothing! That must have been devastating for Andrew, Peter, James and John.
After all, these men were professionals. They knew where the fish were and they knew how
to catch them. Well, let's just say that things have changed! You see, when these men were
called to follow Jesus, they forsook their ships and their nets and followed Jesus. They
have been called to be "fishers of men", Mark 1:17. They failed because they
were walking in the flesh instead of the Spirit! There was nothing wrong with fishing, it
just wasn't the business Jesus wanted them to be about.
(There is a word for us here as well. We need to understand that in this
modern day of fancy buildings, large budgets and good crowds, our sufficiency will never
be sufficient. When we were saved, we were brought into a new relationship of total
dependence upon Jesus Christ. I personally believe that this is the Lord's will for us not
only as individuals, but also as a church. We are to walk in utter dependence upon Jesus,
realizing that without Him, we are nothing - John 15:5. Yet, knowing that in His power, we
can do anything - Phil. 4:13.)
B. V. 4-14 A Morning Of Wonderful Abundance -
When Jesus showed up, things began to change!
1. V. 5 A Challenge From The Master - This question was
designed to bring home the reality of their failure. They had fished all night. They were
probably tired and hungry and now this fellow shows up asking them if they have any meat.
Their short answer is an indication of the reality they felt all too well. At this moment,
they felt like failures.)
(Ill. Aren't you glad the Lord challenges us when we go about things in
our own strength? When He does, it isn't to rub our noses in our failures in an effort to
put us down. When He challenges our failed attempts at self-sufficiency, His motive is
that of awakening in us a renewed dependence upon Himself. We need the constant reminder
that "the just shall live by faith", Rom.1:17; "Whatsoever is not of faith
is sin", Rom. 14:23; and "Without faith it is impossible to please Him",
Heb. 11:6. Our sufficiency will ever fail, His will never fail!)
2. V. 6 A Command From The Master - Jesus tells them to
let down their nets on the right side of the boat with the promise that when they do, they
will find the fish they have sought all night. When they obeyed the Lord's command, they
were rewarded with a huge catch of fish. What they had failed to accomplish with their
skill, knowledge and power had been brought to pass in a single moment by their obedience
to the will of God.
(Ill. What a lesson for us in the church today! We have programs,
procedures, policies, etc. We have all the organization and the well-oiled machinery that
we can use and still we are not catching fish like we should. What is the problem? Perhaps
it is the same problem that the Disciples had. Perhaps we are trusting everything instead
of Jesus to get the job done. We can never expect to do the Lord's work until we go about
it in the Lord's will! Perhaps the hour has arrived for us to chunk the junk and get back
to what works. Perhaps it is time for the modern church to revisit the forsaken avenues of
the protracted prayer meeting, old-fashioned preaching, door to door evangelism and
genuine love among the brethren. When we learn to fish the Lord's way we will catch what
we are after!)
3. V. 7-14 The Capability Of The Master - Did you
notice that in these verses, Jesus took care of every need they had? They were laboring
ineffectively for fish and when they arrived on the shore, Jesus had fish and bread
prepared. They were attempting to catch a few fish for food probable, Jesus gave them a
net filled with fish. They were weary and cold from a night on the lake, Jesus had a fire
prepared to warm and comfort them. The lesson here is unmistakable. Our need is the
evidence of God's supply in waiting. When we lack, He has our supply! He is able to meet
the need of His people, Phil. 4:19.
(Ill. In these verses, there are some truths revealed about Jesus that
can and will change every individual here as well as your church and mine.
1. V. 1 Jesus is alive from the dead - There is no need
to fear the task at hand. Jesus lives and will never leave us nor forsake us, but He ever
lives to make intercession for us at the right hand of the Father.
2. V. 6 Jesus is able to control circumstances - He
changed in an instant what they had been unable to change in an entire night! Don't give
up! Learn to trust the power of our Savior - Matt. 17:20.
3. V. 6 Jesus is able to control success - The success
of the Disciples in this instance was entirely in the hands of the Lord Jesus Christ. They
would have continued in failure unless He had intervened! When He did, they enjoyed
enormous success. Folks, this takes the pressure off of you and me! When we realize that
the harvest is the Lord's and our duty is to walk in His will and do what He tells us to,
we come to recognize that He is also responsible for any measure of success that is
obtained. My job is to obey. The duty of our churches is to obey. Success is in the hands
of the Lord!
4. V. 4 Jesus is able to direct from afar - Jesus was
on the shore, the Disciples were in a boat out on the sea, still the Lord was able to
direct them and intervene on their behalf. What a lesson for the church! While we sail the
stormy seas of life, Jesus is seated in Heaven. From that vantage point, He is able move
in our circumstances, He is able to meet our needs, He is able to direct our lives and He
is able to command His churches. He is not out of touch, He is in absolute control!
5. V. 6 Jesus is able to empower His people - Jesus was
able to accomplish in a moment that which they could not do in an entire night of
self-effort. So it is in the life of His church! If we try to do these things in our own
power, we will surely fail, but if we walk in the will of God, humble seeking His face and
looking to His powerful hand to get the job done, then we cannot fail!
6. V. 10-11 Jesus is able to supply all the needs of His people
- When the Disciples reached the shore, they found that their labor had been in vain.
Their attempts at self-sufficiency has been wasted. When they came face to face with
Jesus, they found that He had everything they needed already ready and waiting for them.
May I remind you this evening that He is still Jehovah-Jireh?
I. Lesson #1: Involves Our Dependence Upon God
II. V. 15-17 Lesson #2: INVOLVES OUR DUTY BEFORE GOD
A. V. 15-17 Our Primary Duty -Three times, the
Disciple who denied the Lord is called upon to reaffirm his love for Jesus. Now, much has
been said about Peter's confession and the word play that ensues between himself and the
Lord. It is true that the first 2 times Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him with agape love,
and twice Peter answered that he loved Jesus with phileo love. However, before we become
to harsh toward Peter, let's remember that this is the man who had made his boast to go
with Jesus unto the death and had, before that night was ended, denied Jesus three times.
I see Peter humbled and honest before the Lord.
(Ill. What is the word from the church from this passage? Love Christ!
We, as a church, must move beyond the phileo love that says, "I am fond of you, I
live you like a brother.", and we must come to the place where we love the Lord with
a genuine agape love. That is, we need a self-sacrificing, self-denying, unconditional,
unchanging, unending love for Christ that pervades every area of our lives. When we come
to this point, Matt. 22:39 will pose no problems for us. Then we will be in a place to
demonstrate to the lost world around us that Jesus is all that He claims to be - John
B. V. 15-17 Our Perpetual Duty - Genuine love
for Jesus is manifested in what way? Is it enough for me to say, "I love the
Lord!"? Is it enough for our churches to say, "Man, we really love Jesus
here!"? No! True love for the Lord always manifests itself in obedience to His
commandments, John 14:15! Then, when there is obedience to the commands of Jesus, He has
promised to manifest His presence in the midst of His people! In these three verses, we
are shown the perpetual duty of the church.
1. To Supply The Saints - Peter is told to feed
"my lambs", v. 15, these are the "little ones." Then, he is told to
feed "my sheep.", v. 16. These would be those who are more mature. The point is
clear. Jesus expected Peter to communicate the mind of God to all ages. Herein lies a
problem that is ever growing in our churches. We have men who communicate their opinions.
Men who communicate the course of politics and society. Men who communicate the mind of
the Convention or denomination. There are those who communicate the mind of their favorite
preacher. However, if we are going to feed the lambs and the sheep, then we must open the
Word of God and communicate the mind of God to His people. When they receive a steady diet
of "thus saith the Lord." They will grow!
(Ill. Some might say tonight, "That is the preacher's job! What
does that have to do with me?" I would answer, "Everything!" The duty of
the child of God in this matter cannot be over stated. After all, there are many of you
who teach in the church. When you stand before that Sunday School class or that Disciple
Training class, have a word from God! For the rest, hold up the hands of those who are
standing forth and communicating truth to the flock of God. Pray for God's men and for
those who teach in our churches. May I remind you this evening that it takes every member
of the body functioning in its appointed place to get the job done for Jesus? Let's do our
(Ill. A visitor was being shown around a leper colony
in India. At noon a gong sounded for the midday meal. People came from all parts of the
compound to the dining hall. All at once peals of laughter filled the air. Two young men,
one riding on the other's back, were pretending to be a horse and a rider and were having
loads of fun.
As the visitor watched, he saw that the man who carried his
friend was blind, and the man on his back was lame. The one who could not see used his
feet; the one who could not walk used his eyes. Together they helped each other, and they
found great joy in doing it.
Imagine a church like that--each member using his or her
strength to make up for another's weakness. That's what should be happening in every
congregation of believers.)
2. To Support The Saints - In verse 16, the word
"feed" literally means "to tend, or to keep sheep." Peter is told that
the sheep need more than food. They are to be looked after and all their needs are to be
supplied. Again, there is a message to Pastors here, but there is also an application to
all the saints of God. This thought reminds us that Galatians 6:2, "Bear ye one
another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ." needs to become a reality in the
modern church. When people enter the church they should know that they are part of a group
that cares for them an that they are loved. We need to take every possible step to ensure
that Matthew 22:39 is fully realized in every church represented hee this evening.
(Ill. "A Zulu proverb says that when a thorn
pierces the foot, the whole body must bend over to pull it out. This kind of
interdependence is a basic characteristic of the church.")
That may mean putting aside petty differences and pointless squabbles,
but when we genuinely love one another, the world will notice and God Himself will
manifest His power and presence among His people once again.
I. Lesson #1: Involves Our Dependence Upon God
II. Lesson #2: Involves Our Duty Before God
III. V. 18-22 LESSON #3: INVOLVES OUR DEVOTION TO GOD
A. V. 18 A Word About Reality - Peter is
reminded that obedience to Jesus carries with it a price. Peter is told what kind of death
he is to die for the Lord. When we decide, whether as churches, or as individuals, that we
will walk in the will of the Lord and will love Him and each other like we should, then we
can expect to come under attack from Satan. Paul plainly tells us that all who live for
the Lord can expect to be persecuted, 2 Tim. 3:12. The reality is that there is a price to
pay, but in the end, the payoff is worth the price! What payoff? The presence and power of
God active in our lives and in our churches is plenty of dividend.
B. V. 19 A Word About The Requirement - Peter's
original call is reaffirmed, Matt. 4:18-19, and the Apostle is restored to his office. In
this, we are reminded that Jesus has certain expectations concerning our walk with Him. It
is simple, the requirements are the same for every person in this building tonight, Matt.
16:24. When we genuinely deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Jesus, we will see
our lives, our attitudes, or effectiveness and our churches changed forever. Again, often
the price is high, but the payoff is priceless!
C. V. 20-22 A Word About Rivalry - When Peter is
told about his ultimate demise, he asks Jesus about John. It is as if there is some sort
of rivalry in the mind of Peter with John. Jesus responds by telling Peter to tend to his
own life and the Lord will take care of John. What a lesson for the church tonight!
(Ill. Competition should be eliminated from our vocabularies this
evening! It isn't about how much we have or how many we have as opposed to that which you
have at your place. That is why I think these rally services are so vital in these days.
They are a testimony to the world that we can worship together, that we are not out to get
one another. That the saints of God, though they differ in worship styles, musical tastes
or whatever can come together for the greater glory of God and can work together to impact
a world for Jesus. Therefore, instead of wondering how we can get more than those folks
down the road, let's begin praying for one another. Let's begin working together to
advance the Kingdom of God in this world.)
Conc: After this impromptu breakfast meeting, the Disciples were never
the same. Peter became a powerhouse for Jesus, the others served with distinction and
glorified God in their lives and ultimately by their deaths. Why the change? I think
perhaps the answer lies in the fact that they learned some lessons that were never
forgotten that morning. Some lessons that they took to heart and that were allowed to work
in their lives.
Has the Lord spoken to your heart this evening? Perhaps on a personal
level God has spoken to you and you realize that your walk with Him needs improvement.
Perhaps you are a church leader and you know that there needs to be improvement in your
walk with the Lord. Maybe God is speaking to entire congregations this evening and you
folk know that some of these lessons need to be heeded and implemented in your church.
Perhaps, there are those here tonight who have never been saved and God is calling you to
come to Him. Why not take care of all these needs right now. Certainly, there is a great
need for us to join our hearts together in prayer for the campmeeting itself. God will
move in response to the cry of His people! I trust that you will do as God would have you
to do right now.